Shedding Some Blood on the Fringe Fest Stages

Melbourne’s Award-Winning Performance is Coming to Montreal’s Fringe Festival

Press Photo for Poet VS Pageant. Courtesy Telia Nevile

What better way to liven up a beauty pageant than by making it a violent affair?

From the stages of Melbourne’s Fringe Festival, writer, poet and performer Telia Nevile is bringing her hit solo performance Poet VS Pageant to Montreal’s Fringe Festival for her Canadian debut.

Poet VS Pageant features a socially awkward and overly shy young girl as she tries her best to survive the perils of a bloody beauty pageant. Sequins, swimsuit competitions and blood rage abound.

“I thought ‘what would be the worst possible situation I could throw her into?’ And I figured it could either be to throw her in jail or a beauty pageant,” Nevile said with a laugh. “There’s lots of blood and lots of sequins. Lots of people die after the swimsuit round. It’s great.”

Although Nevile has written other works, she chose to bring this particular show to Montreal’s Fringe Festival. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and they’ve all told me that Montreal and Canada in general is very up for poetry,” she explained. “So I’m really excited about meeting lots of other word nerds. Especially word nerds who speak a different language!”

Nevile also added that the Montreal art scene seems to be very open with experimenting and is always interested in seeing stuff that hasn’t been done before.

When writing the show back in 2015, Nevile was inspired by works of epic poetry like The Odyssey and The Iliad, particularly for their beautiful sweep of images and their poetic scales. “I wanted to see what would happen if you translated it into a modern context,” Nevile explained.

Interestingly enough, it is the first work of epic poetry that Nevile has tried her hand at writing, and the least comedy focused of her shows.

“This one was more of an ambitious reach for me because I wasn’t sure if I could write an epic poem,” Nevile said. “I wanted to see if I could and if people were okay with watching that kind of thing because Australia doesn’t have a big history with storytelling shows or poetry shows.”

Nevile explained that Poet VS Pageant will have jokes in it, but the jokes will be a lot gentler. “This one’s more of a hero’s journey and a storytelling show that happens to have a couple of jokes thrown in it.”

Overall, Nevile wants her audience to have a good time when they go to see her show. “I hope that, if they’re socially awkward, then they’ll leave a little bit bolstered,” she said. “Like, ‘yeah, I’m a little bit awkward, and that’s okay!’”

Telia Nevile // Poet VS Pageant // Black Theatre Workshop (3680 Jeanne Mance St.) // June 9-18 // $6 for students OR $9 for general admission